A new Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Sunday revealed that Republican voters’ loyalty to former President Donald Trump remains high, as does their ignorance about the Capitol riot. A Shocking Number Of Republicans Would Join Donald Trump In Third Party:
If Trump were to form his own political party, as he has reportedly considered, a plurality of his GOP backers would follow him there, by a margin of 46% to 27%, with the rest undecided.
The results, from 1,000 Republicans who voted for Trump in his losing bid to win a second term, also indicated no letup in his followers’ baseless denial of who was involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.
Fifty-eight percent of Trump voters called the insurrection “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters,” while 28% deemed it a “rally of Trump supporters, some of whom attacked the Capitol.”
A study earlier this month showed the arrested rioters were largely pro-Trump activists. The FBI has said there is “no indication” that antifa was involved with the insurrection, which led to at least five deaths.
Trump supporters have gone so far down the rabbit hole that they are now completely detached from reality. They are living in alternate reality, and that makes them a national security threat for more domestic violence.
Speaking of detached from reality, Arizona
Republican Sedition Party chair Kelli “Chemtrails” Ward tweeted out this in response to the Suffolk/USA Today poll:
.@AZGOP Chairwoman @kelliwardaz tweeted out a poll touting a poll with nearly half of Republican respondents saying they'd be willing to bolt the GOP for a new Trump-led party. https://t.co/KacY9G3fRK
— Jeremy Duda (@jeremyduda) February 22, 2021
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele has a suggestion for Kelli Ward and her Trump personality cult followers: “There’s the door” (don’t let it hit you in the ass on your way out). Former RNC Chair Has 3 Short Words For Republicans Wanting A Trump Party:
Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele had a terse message Monday for conservatives who would leave the Republican Party to follow former President Donald Trump.
“You have 46% of the folks saying they will follow Trump,” Steele said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’m like, OK, there’s the door. Y’all go do your thing, and we’ll just pick up the pieces on this side and keep moving. And that’s the battle.”
He was discussing a Suffolk University/USA Today poll that found 46% of Republicans surveyed would abandon the GOP and join a Trump party if the former president decided to form one. Just 27% surveyed said they wouldn’t. The remaining number said they were undecided.
The results of the poll show just how deeply Trump’s rhetoric has embedded itself within the party, Steele said.
“You can’t turn the corner on that,” he said. “You’ve got the national leadership making their way down to Mar-a-Lago to confer with Trump,” he said, referring to meetings between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and the former president in Florida since he left office. “About what?”
He said the GOP’s focus now should be on what it does next.
“And that’s where the battle lines are drawn,” he said, referencing Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), both of whom have faced criticism from within the party for voting with Democrats to impeach Trump in January.
″[They’re] standing on one side saying, ‘Here’s the rational, conservative approach to small government, effective leadership, individual liberties, etc.,’” Steele said. “And then there’s this. The Trump party.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent warns, Trump’s grip on the GOP just tightened. Here’s what that means for Democrats.
When Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference next weekend, his message will go a lot deeper than simply reinforcing the message that the GOP is still Trump’s party.
According to sources who spoke to Axios, the former president will communicate that he is still fully “in charge” of the GOP and is the “presumptive 2024 nominee” if he deigns to run. But the message will also be that he will endorse primary challenges to anti-Trump heretics — meaning Republicans who hope for political futures must maintain absolute loyalty to him.
This ongoing development calls forth obligations from Democrats. First, they need to communicate effectively with the public about what a malignancy on democracy the GOP is becoming amid this worsening radicalization.
Second, this recognition gives rise to another one — that, broadly speaking, the GOP simply will not function anytime soon as a participant in our democracy when it comes to addressing large public problems. That means Democrats have to go as big as possible on policy in their first two years, on their own if necessary.
After all, the GOP may well seize control of the House in 2022 — largely due to its escalating reliance on counter-majoritarian tactics — which would grind President Biden’s agenda to a halt in the face of those problems.
In an interview, Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, hinted at an understanding along these lines.
“Dangerous elements are controlling the Republican Party,” Maloney told me. “They’ve got their hands around its neck right now.”
The GOP, said Maloney, has “become a danger to our democracy and our public health.”
Trump’s grip really is tightening
There is ample reason to believe Trump’s tightened grip on the GOP is working, at least in some ways.
Trump advisers say he will support primary challengers to elected Republicans who have “crossed him,” as Axios reports. One Trump adviser said: “Trump effectively is the Republican Party.”
Many Republican officials are plainly in thrall to this notion. They are widely censuring the Republican lawmakers who have “attacked” Trump by voting to hold him accountable for trying to incite the violent overthrow of U.S. democracy.
In short, loyalty to Trump means Republicans must pledge absolute fealty to his evolving mythology. The 2020 election was a monstrous injustice perpetrated on Trump (it was stolen from him), and whatever efforts he undertook to overturn the results were uniformly peaceful (he had nothing to do with the violent insurrection) and an absolutely legitimate effort to right that wrong. [The Big Lie.]
As Democratic strategist Dan Pfeiffer points out, GOP voters are far more in thrall to Trump’s mythos than to anything elected party leaders tell them. This will make it hard to evolve the party past Trump without fracturing it.
Indeed, an extraordinary new USA Today poll underscores the point. Fully half of Trump voters say the GOP should become more loyal to Trump, even as more than 9 out of 10 say Trump didn’t incite an insurrection, and 73 percent say Biden didn’t legitimately get elected.
And this is having forward-looking consequences. As Amy Gardner reports, Republicans are implementing new voting restrictions across the country. Critically, they are casting these measures as necessary to restore confidence in elections, because so many people believe it was stolen from Trump:
Proponents say the actions are necessary because large numbers of voters believe Trump’s false assertions that President Biden won the 2020 election through widespread fraud.
In short, the Big Lie that the election was stolen from Trump — and the fact that a lot of Republican voters believe this — is becoming the fake justification for more voter suppression and a redoubled commitment to winning future elections with counter-majoritarian tactics.
All this underscores the stakes of the next two years. Republicans are openly boasting that they will use extreme gerrymanders to recapture the House in 2022, and some experts believe they can do this even if Democrats win the national popular vote.
Losing the House to an increasingly radicalized GOP would go a long way toward crippling the country’s ability to respond to large public problems. [It would mean that the anti-democratic fascist insurrectionists on January 6 finally succeeded.]
The stakes are incredibly high
This intensifies pressure on Democrats to hold the House, of course, which in turn requires a reckoning with why Democrats lost a dozen House seats in 2020 even as they won the White House and Senate.
When I asked DCCC Chair Maloney how the party will learn from 2020, he promised a “deep” analysis into those losses, “to understand what lessons there are both in terms of where we can do better, but also what worked so well in places like Georgia.”
Note: The Republican Party is not doing a post-mortem of the 2020 election, despite their losses. They are doubling down on Trumpism, the new American fascism, because they have convinced themselves that they actually won. ‘Everything’s great’: GOP ditches election post-mortems.
Maloney noted that this analysis will look at what went wrong with outreach in Latino communities — where Trump and Republicans gained ground — and how to improve communications on digital and social media.
But this state of affairs will also require communicating with the public about what today’s Trump-controlled GOP has become — with a particular emphasis on how its descent renders it incapable of handling big pressing problems facing the country.
“They are divided and under siege from their dangerous elements,” Maloney told me. “If that’s where they continue to take themselves, then I believe they will separate themselves from the voters they need to win.”
“Swing voters in swing districts,” Maloney said, will “not follow the Republican Party to crazytown.”
Sargent’s colleague at The Post, Never Trumper Jennifer Rubin, must have had her Wheaties this week in a pair of hard-hitting columns. First, Pundits are wrong. We don’t need a functional GOP.
You hear it all the time, especially from Democrats: We need a functioning two-party system. We need a better Republican Party. No, and no.
A two-party system serves two functions. First, it provides choice to voters and discipline to each party. Second, it aids in organizing legislative bodies. But could those functions be performed in some other manner?
With regard to organizing legislative bodies, most Western-style democracies have more than two parties. By the same token, it is conceivable, as the Founders envisioned, that something akin to “factions” rather than political parties provides the organizational structure for legislatures. We saw a moderate faction help end the government shutdown in 2018 and forge an agreement on a covid-19 relief package last December.
That faction of sane Senate Republicans, for example, could conceivably organize as its own caucus, wielding power that would install, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) or Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) as majority leader. There is no magic, in other words, to two parties.
Moreover, the pining for a sane Republican Party — a “center right” party — makes sense only if one thinks such a party has a constituency and sufficient distance from the Democratic Party. Can you find a base for a party that, say, wants to spend a trillion dollars instead of $1.9 trillion on a covid-19 relief bill? Perhaps in a few states, but nationwide, it is unclear that there is a felt need for a Democratic-lite party, beyond rich donors. It is even harder to find a substantial base for a Barry Goldwater-style “small government” party. Neither side ran on such a platform in 2020.
It is no secret that modern conservatism, in large part a response to the Cold War, is ideologically spent. The Bulwark’s William Kristol got to the nub of it in a September post:
So perhaps we need to acknowledge that it has come to this: Real, existing conservatism as it exists in America in 2020 is an accomplice to, an apologist for, and an enabler of Trump’s nativist, populist, unconservative, and illiberal authoritarianism. …
[P]erhaps every political movement has a natural lifespan: Modern American conservatism was born in 1955, peaked in full flower in the 1980s, and then aged, mostly gracefully, for three decades. Until it could easily, if suddenly, be pushed aside in its dotage—forced, or induced, to surrender to its younger and stronger, if disreputable, distant relative.
* * *
All of that is to say that there is no particular reason to hope for a revived Republican Party insofar as we are looking for a vehicle for an exhausted ideology. If we need a second or a third party, the possibilities are endless. There are socially conservative but economically progressive parties in Western Europe that embrace a strong social contract. There could be a need for a centrist party if the Democrats go off the deep end.
However, as we think through this next era in politics, we should abide by one core principle: A right-wing, populist and authoritarian party should not be allowed to hold power. It has proved to be dangerous, racist and fundamentally un-American. Everything else should be up for debate.
In a follow-up column, Rubin writes Sane Republicans need to leave the GOP:
For a few years now, I have posited that the “old” Republican Party cannot be revived, that the current MAGA Republican Party is not worth sustaining and that sane Republicans (ranging from Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois) have no reasonable hope to rescue their party.
The latest Suffolk University-USA Today poll confirms those conclusions. “By double digits, 46%-27%, those surveyed say they would abandon the GOP and join the Trump party if the former president decided to create one,” USA Today reports. Additionally, they are under the ludicrous and false impression that the Jan. 6 insurrection was the doing of antifa (58 percent) rather than the disgraced former president’s followers (28 percent). It comes as no surprise that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the MAGA Republican Party think that President Biden was not legitimately elected.
To make matters worse, Trump voters said they wanted him to run for president again in 2024 — by a margin of 59 percent to 29 percent. If he were to run, 76 percent said they’d support him for the nomination, and 85 percent would vote for him in a general election.
And finally, Fox News is no longer nutty enough for many of them. … In a USA Today-Suffolk poll in October 2016, 58 percent of Trump voters said Fox News was their most trusted news source. In this latest poll, that number has dropped to 34 percent.
A few observations are in order. First, these people have been thoroughly brainwashed by right-wing media. Second, the cult is self-reinforcing. (The cult leader lost? The enemies cheated. The cult leader messed up on covid-19? The death toll is exaggerated.) Now that they are heading for even crazier “news” outlets, the notion that we are going to reason with such voters is preposterous.
Third, we must recognize that the rational approach to government, even the delivery of much-needed government benefits, is irrelevant to the MAGA crowd. What matters is that the ex-president is fighting a racial and cultural war to protect them. Theirs is a White Christian Nationalist movement brimming with resentment and suspicion; these are not people you can win over with great policy ideas.
And finally, the MAGA people are not going to decamp from the GOP; they now have the instruments of party control. It is the narrow stratum of reality-based Republicans who need to leave if they cannot live with a racist, anti-democratic, anti-truth majority.
What then happens to those who will not drink the MAGA Kool-Aid? Some will lose in primaries. Many will retire. Aside from a few brave souls such as Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Kinzinger, the vast majority of elected Republicans have already made peace with the wackos, lying to themselves and to the voters (epitomized by the canard that “impeachment was unconstitutional”) when they want to save face.
The responsible Republicans who remain — think of the seven senators who voted to convict, although two are soon to retire — have two avenues. They can remain technically within the party but act independently; we saw this in the December covid-relief deal and during impeachment. Alternatively, as the party shrinks and its chances of holding majorities in Congress and winning the White House decline, these sensible Republicans can decide to formally leave the party.
* * *
For the foreseeable future, the GOP is a cult of personality headed by a vicious, dangerous authoritarian. Those with a conscience and love of democracy still in the party need to end the denial. They need to figure out how and when to separate themselves from a party that embraces, as my colleague Michael Gerson correctly concluded, “American fascism” based on white supremacy, irrationality, ignorance, xenophobia, antisemitism, violence, and “anger and dehumanization.”
Gerson’s column today: There’s only one political party right now.
Until then, let’s all agree: An anti-Trump Republican is fast becoming an oxymoron.